Friday, October 10, 2008

It's Getting Crowded On The Beach

Actually, if we have just a couple more days like yesterday's 679-point debacle for the Dow, the beach is going to look like Normandy on D-Day.

I'm still trying to come to grips with the fact that my former industry is crumbling before me, even as I scramble to get back in to it. Stock values in radio companies are dropping faster than the Dow is, but the big difference between radio and most other industries is that there's little reason to think old media like radio and newspapers are going to recover any time soon.

My former employer, Citadel Broadcasting, now has its stock selling at 37 cents a share, and it is set to be de-listed by the New York Stock Exchange any day now. Sirius-XM, which was created in a merger a couple of months back in a bid to keep the satellite radio companies afloat, is now selling at 45 cents a share. And these are just a couple of examples. Both companies are facing enormous debt loads, and it's unclear why investors would take a shot at buying them. It's clear that advertising is going to take a huge hit, and when it does recover, radio and newspaper are not going to get the lion's share of ad money. Sirius, in particular, depends on people buying new cars to survive, and that won't be happening in acceptable numbers anytime soon, either.

I worry about my friends at Citadel, and I fear that another wave of layoffs like the one that cost me my career is now underway. The longtime Program Director at WABC-AM in New York was shown the door yesterday, as was one of the Human Resources people at WMAL/WRQX/WJZW. Those are the only two I know of so far, but I'm sure there are more. I know there is little-to-no fat left to cut, so it's frightening to think of what might happen next. I just hope there's enough money left for everyone to get a decent severance when the ax falls.

Hang in there, friends - and keep your heads down!

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